Sunday, Oct. 28, is the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B, Cycle II). Nov. 1 is All Saints’ Day, a holy day of obligation.
Halloween, Saints and Souls
The alluring aspects of Halloween can be creepy and consumerist — or they can be a call to faith. In Washington, the Dominican friars host a nighttime prayer service for young people. Here in Atchison, Kan., we are blessed to have an abbey with monks whose prayers we can join.
This is a great week to remind your children that our Church spans the whole history of Christianity. All Saints’ Day was the day they converted the pagan Pantheon to a Catholic church by installing the relics of the martyrs. All Souls’ Day is a day to pray for all the souls in purgatory.
Jeremiah 31:7-9, Psalms 126:1-6, Hebrews 5:1-6, Mark 10:46-52
Bartimaeus is the blind beggar who was sitting by the side of the road when he heard that Jesus was passing by. His eagerness to encounter Christ was publicly proclaimed.
He began calling out, "Jesus, son of David, have pity on me!" The Gospel tells us that "many rebuked him, telling him to be silent." We can picture the scene: The great religious figure is passing by, so his followers want to enforce a little decorum on the streets.
It didn’t work, though. Bartimaeus was bold: "He kept calling out all the more, ‘Son of David, have pity on me!’"
There are many lessons to take from Bartimaeus. In our day, when religious freedom is under attack as never before, one basic lesson is this: No one can take away your right to call out to God. Maybe your faith makes other people uncomfortable. Maybe they would rather you keep your faith private. Too bad. We have a right to express our faith and act according to it. But another, more personal meaning is this: Jesus always answers those who call out for him.
What makes Bartimaeus great is his faith. That’s what Jesus praises him for, and that’s what saves him in the end. His example is a good test for our faith. What would we do if Jesus was passing by and his handlers were hushing us up? Would we be polite and quiet — or would we make a small scene in our desire to see our Savior?
Bartimaeus knew how deeply he needed Jesus, so he made a small scene. We need to understand how great our need for Jesus is, too.
The Jewish people in the first reading discovered this. Jeremiah is the great prophet of the Lamentations of Israel. His writings give us a sense of the utter darkness and sorrow the people of Israel felt when they were separated from their homeland.
In today’s reading, Jeremiah shares the joy of the people as they come back. "They departed in tears, but I will console them and guide them … for I am a father to Israel."
When torn from their homeland, the Israelites knew how much they missed Jerusalem and how happy they were to return. When torn from God by sin, we should hope we have the same feeling — and have the same joy upon returning.
As the second reading points out, we have a way back — in Jesus. And it should make us just as delighted as the Israelites returning from exile. As delighted as Bartimaeus was to see Christ.
Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas, where Tom is writer in residence at Benedictine College.